Miami's Top Five Basketball Courts, Just in Time for the NBA Finals

Rejoice, City of Miami, your beloved Heat have earned themselves another shot at an NBA title. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are poised to finally live up to the hype surrounding the gathering of their "Big Three" in 2010 with a second straight appearance in the NBA Finals.

Last year, the Heat fell just short of their ultimate goal, losing to the Dallas Mavericks to give that franchise its first-ever NBA title (and Mark Cuban a record-breaking tab at LIV in the Fontainebleau). This season, King James and company are determined not to let another team celebrate in their own backyard. Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder stand in the way.

Basketball fans often get an itch to play after watching the Big Three's heroics. With Game One of the finals tipping off today, we've got your list of the best places in Miami to catch a pick-up game.

Some close at sunset; others turn the lights on at night. Some have gorgeous views, while others just an ideal location. No matter the reason for their selection, it was well-deserved. Here are our favorite five basketball courts in Miami.

5. Jose Marti Park
Named after a Cuban national hero and important figure in Latin American literature, Jose Marti Park underneath I-95 at the border of Brickell and Little Havana may make you think you just stumbled into "Freedom Town" from the Miami epic Scarface. The park boasts an indoor and outdoor court, as well as a pool, fitness room, playground, and a number of athletic after-school programs. The lights go on at night to accommodate some late night ball. Facilities and a membership for the fitness room are also available for rental. There's just one drawback: You may want to play inside, as opposed to on the outdoor courts, where you can get quite dirty balling underneath the bridge.

4. Flamingo Park
Situated in the very heart of South Beach, Flamingo Park is a favorite for tourists and local residents alike. Lil Wayne, who lives in a nearby highrise, can sometimes be seen riding his skateboard on the sidewalks there. Nearby residents like Anna Kournikova and Shakira have also been known to take a casual stroll through the park, usually surrounded by a barrier of security personnel. Meanwhile, competition at the courts off 13th Street and Michigan Avenue can get intense, but ends when the park closes at sunset.

3. Alice Wainwright Park
Alice Wainwright Park is one of Miami's most beautiful hidden gems. Situated on a thin strip of land on the water behind South Miami Avenue where Brickell meets Coconut Grove, the park affords visitors some of the most magnificent views of Biscayne Bay anywhere in Miami. In addition to basketball courts, the park also offers a few closed pavilions and a number of barbecue grills. Wainwright is a wonderful place to visit while it's open (from sunrise to sunset), but parking is usually scarce and it can be tough to drum up any serious competition.

2. Palm Island Park
The view and near seclusion at Palm Island Park were enough to get the court the "Best Of" b-ball court designation here at the New Times in 2011. Contrary to popular belief, the park is open to the public by just passing through the police check station at the entrance to the opulent neighborhood. Mansions line the backdrop and a scenic bridge greets your every shot at the north basket. Just like the No. 3 and No. 4 courts on this list, however, there are no lights, so get there before sunset.

1. Margaret Pace Park
Located directly on the bay between I-395 and I-195 just east of Biscayne Boulevard, Margaret Pace Park has everything a baller could ask for. There is plenty of parking, a nearby Metromover station at the Omni, and a spacious court. The park has a beautiful view, just like Nos. 2 and 3, but unlike the previous two, stays open past sundown for serious ballers. Especially during the summer, many wait until nighttime when heat dissipates and the best players in the neighborhood come out to play.

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